Indian food is one of my favorite leftovers to play with. And since I most frequently make chicken curry, those are the leftovers I often play with. But any flavorful leftover Indian food is fair game.
Recipe ideas with leftover chicken curry (or any other). . .
With a bit of creativity in the kitchen, you can turn your flavorful leftovers into something as good as, or possibly even better than the original dish. You may also decide to make a curry just for these dishes. Here they are:
1. Pasta sauce
First up is to make a quick pasta sauce. Your pasta can be long or short. You can make a comforting baked pasta dish, stirring in and topping with grated cheese, or not. If you need to moisten the mixture, you might add some yogurt, cashew cream, or tomato puree, depending on your curry. My Indian spaghetti bolognese is a perfect example.
2. Kathi rolls or wraps
Using your favorite roti, wheat tortilla, or any other kind of wrap (dosa?), fill them with your masala. Add in pickled or chopped onions, sliced red or green bell pepper, drizzles of chutney, cheese, and a flutter of cilantro, and you have a delightful snack or casual meal.
3. Savory pie
This idea will require a full recipe of curry rather than just being an option for leftovers. Top a savory pie with mashed potatoes, as I do in my curried shepherd’s pie. Or use store-bought pie dough or puff pastry for an easy curry twist.
Similar to tacos (see below) in suggested ingredients, quesadillas are like a grilled sandwich using flour tortillas. The cheese gets all melty, and the tortilla crisps up for a satisfyingly crunchy bite. Use any or all the toppings from the kathi roll above or pizza ideas, shredding any larger pieces of protein from your curry.
Who doesn’t like pizza? And if making your pizza or naan isn’t in the cards, pick up some dough at the grocery store. Or buy fresh or frozen naan for that perfect quick, and easy meal topped with your favorite curry. Add some sliced onions, cheese, and/or some of your favorite minced pickles, and serve with a salad, and dinner is done!
6. Puff pastry pinwheels
I love Molly’s creative use of butter chicken. On her blog Easy Cooking with Molly, she rolls butter chicken into store-bought puff pastry into a pretty and yummy pinwheels.
7. Pulled sandwich or sliders
If your curry has largish pieces of meat or chicken, shred it and make a pulled sandwich. The word pulled simply means to shred and is a favorite Southern method of using pork, chicken, or beef.
Be sure not to use too much sauce, or you will have a sloppy joe instead. Curries like vindaloo, my Kerala beef curry, or any lamb masala would be immensely satisfying. Add any toppings that make sense and serve in hamburger or slider buns.
Tacos are another one of those meals that reward improvisation. Go wheat or corn tortillas, either way, serve stuffed with chicken vindaloo, Goan sausage, shrimp, or keema, and top with your favorite fixings. Add cheese, onions—pickled or not, and green chutney, and call it a day. Even chopped achar or pickle wouldn’t go amiss.
9. Make ravioli or momos
Make filled pasta, either from pasta or manicotti shells, homemade pasta, or store-bought wonton wrappers. Ravioli or momos would be delicious stuffed with your favorite curry. Use the gravy of the curry as the sauce for the pasta. Fold in caramelized or crisp onions and some cilantro. And if you need more sauce, add yogurt, cream, or a bit of tomato or marinara sauce.
10. What about a galette?
If you haven’t been to Smitten Kitchen you must. Deb Perelman’s galette crust is a great idea for transforming your curry into something novel. Top with a sprinkle of fried onions (birista), a drizzle of raita, and a flurry of cilantro.
I'd love to hear your ideas on how to use your leftover Indian food. And as always, have fun playing with your food.